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On to today’s business, everyone — I need your help!
I have a problem, a challenge, an ethical conundrum! I have a sewing dilemma! (DRAHMAH!) I would really like your advice on how to proceed because I am flip flopping big time…
My dilemma relates to a pattern release I recently stumbled across. I love this pattern and, having never come across the company before, was very excited to find a new source of patterns that spark something in me.
I rushed to their site, to purchase same and live my best life in a new, uber-chic dress in our coming Sydney summer.
I got to their site and… they don’t go up to my size. Catastrophe! Alarm! Earth-shaking confidence blow! (Not really, am so beyond that…).
I am used to being on the edge of sizing ranges, but in this case, I am nowhere near their size (they go to a EUR46 only). I would have to “adjust” by between 5 and 10 inches depending on which measurement. The word adjust is in quotes there, because at that point it feels like I would be basically drafting a whole new pattern.
The pattern is also around $25 AUD (not including shipping) and is in another language. It’s a language I speak a bit, but I am nowhere near fluency.
What do I do, people? Do I make my own version of their dress, copying the style without buying the pattern? I searched my soul and was interested in the following internal discussion that resulted:
- PRO: I should just make my own version — if they don’t go up to my size, I can make that happen (yay me)!
- CON: I don’t like that they produced this design and I won’t be crediting/paying them for it…
- PRO: But they didn’t include you! This is what sewing is and why it’s awesome — you can make something even when they didn’t make it go to your size. Also, why do you not mind copying RTW but you do mind copying a pattern?
- CON: It’s not like they are a big four company though. I wouldn’t copy clothes from a smaller clothing designer as readily as I would a big multi-national clothing company.
- PRO: Sure, but this dress is simple. Like super super super simple. It’s basically a v-neck tank dress with two other details. At what point is there anything new under the sun anyway?
And so on…
I went on like this for a while, then decided to ask my friends! What would you do?
I have (poorly) sketched the dress below, so you can see how super simple it is.
I think the options are:
a) I should go ahead and just make my own version — I am totally overthinking this!
b) Make my own, but call out the inspiration when I blog/IG post the dress to give credit (and maybe apply a little encouragement to expand the size range).
c) Buy the pattern and use it as help when making my own — then I have paid them for their time and design.
d) Something else?
Help me out, people. What do you think I should do? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for your advice!
Chloe is a Sewcialists Editor, who lives and sews in Australia. She blogs at deadlycraft.blogspot.com.
I believe I have seen a similar dress in the New Look catalog, and NL goes up to 24, I think, with plenty of ease. Have you checked Big 4 (on their site or on eBay) for a similar pattern? That could ease the guilt!
Thanks! I will have a look 🙂
Hey there fellow over-thinker!
I loved reading your inner argument. The question of imitation – is it the sincerest form of flattery or simply intellectual stealing – is always difficult to handle. Personally, I’m of the opinion that if you can draft it yourself (from a block that you know fits you), you are free to do it and there should be no shame in that. It’s a lot of work (depending on the inspiration) and you take on the risk of making mistakes. Sewing is a creative hobby that always includes a design aspect, so where you take that inspiration from is your business.
Now, of course there’s the aspect of small indie designers. It’s somehow worse to harm a small business than a large corporation – but is it really? The large business patterns are also the work of individual designers. And if this particular indie does not think you are their customer, you’re not. If they sell a very simple design, their customers are not actually paying for the design, but for the quality drafting, for the instructions, the fabric recommendations etc, all the stuff that takes work and that you will have to guess on.
Now for the question of whether to give them a shout out: I think you can’t go won’t with 1. Option 2 might give them incentive to do into larger sizes, however I remember what Helen from the Love to Sew podcast mentioned once, that intentionally describing how to hack a specific pattern design can actually be more harming than simply treating it as inspiration. After all, you might very likely change little things when you get to drafting (I know I always do, even with a pattern), so it is your design in the end.
Sorry if that offends smaller designers. I don’t think that’s morally reprehensible, though. You have no obligation to protect someone else’s business from their own business decisions. I’m looking forward to the discussion here to see if there are other points against it.
Love and good luck however you decide,
Thanks Isi – most people seem to think I am overthinking it (it’s not the first time!) but there are some great ideas on reaching out to the company to ask them for larger sizes and similar. I love the notion from the Love to Sew podcast too – something I hadn’t thought of! Thanks for the thoughtful reply from a fellow over-thinker! 🙂
I think you are overthinking it! One of my favourite things about sewing for myself is that once I get a pattern to fit, I can then tweak it and alter it into any number of designs. You are not about to make and sell a copy of their pattern, you can’t be their customer because of the size range, and it would most likely be less work to alter a pattern you already own. 🙂
I think drafting your own version is perfectly OK. If the Indie pattern came in your size, fitting would require some changes. Anything you draft will be inspired by the Indie pattern but not identical.
I find the antipathy towards the Big4 (5?) company a bit baffling. They are a small company who pay their staff appropriately and whose creative output is astonishingly large and consistently well drafted. Why is it OK to plagiarise one of their designs and not that of an indie designer? Particularly one who has a limited size range, whose drafting prowess is untested, and who charges like a roaring bull.
That’s interesting – I don’t know why I would care less about the big 4 than an indie designer, when you put it like that I feel quite protective of them! To be honest, I don’t have much antipathy towards them (I purchase from them also) either. Anyone in the game of sewing is pretty fab in my book…!
I agree with you on all levels but one: for me (I’m from Gemrany) the only big pattern company is Burda but I’ve never had a Burda pattern with good instuctions and most of the ones I made weren’t even well drafted. For me it seems like they have too much output to make it quality output so I don’t buy from them anymore.
I think it’s a bit sad, for the reasons you listed and since the Indie patterns are so much more expensive, but a bad pattern isn’t worth even the couple of Euros I pay for it, much less the hassle and nerves and fabric I waste while tring to make it work.
But that’s just my experience. It may be different with the other big companies and maybe even with Burda outside of Germany.
I’ve always wondered about that as well. There weren’t indie patterns when I was a kid, so I learned to sew and grew up wearing the Big 4. I know they get a bad rap for ease, but I’ve also used some indie patterns that fit me terribly, and once I knew what adjustments I needed to make to Big 4, I could do them pretty consistently. I guess a big part of it is that the indies are often beginner patterns with on trend styling, and you have to look past the Big 4 envelope pictures and sometimes the directions need a little more thought. But at least here in the States, the Big 4 are SO much more budget friendly thanks to Joann Fabrics sales, and there’s a lot of them. So I wouldn’t mind seeing them get some more love from our community!
Good points all, though in Australia the big four just aren’t a cheaper option (unless you get lucky in a sale), in fact, they are quite often more. That probably influences my comments there a bit.
Don’t get me started on the fabric costs here either… *antipodean sobbing*
Fashion isn’t copyrightable – and thank goodness for that! And if you have to put the drafting hours in, you might as well do it yourself instead of paying someone else for something that doesn’t save you time (time is money!). Watch this Ted Talk
and feel better. =)
GREAT talk. “They didn’t want a handful of fashion designers owning the seminal blocks of our clothing”. It’s interesting that this hasn’t applied elsewhere (DNA sequence patenting comes to mind!!!)
B – if you must but there is probably similar by either the big 4 or another indie anyway – so just draft your own
Of course you should copy it and make it in your size and just how you like it. This pattern is similar to other things I’ve seen. You can’t copyright a fashion design.
I say ‘b’ there are some similar shift dresses in the Simplicity amazing fit range which you could hack to work. As a fellow plus size Aussie i feel your pain. Sometimes i find a similar silhouette and make it work. But if the other pattern gave you the idea then credit where credit is due.
B – I figure credit where credit is due if that pattern gave you the inspiration. The simplicity amazing fit range has a shift style which could be easily hacked to replicate the idea
B. It’s always interesting to know what inspires a fellow sewist’s creations. But sewing is about making something for yourself, however it works for you. I often think it’s crazy how much time people spend making adjustments to patterns instead of just drafting their own. Patterns are for those who can’t or don’t want to draft their own. Designs are not copyright.
Totally agree! Draft your own and don’t think twice about it.
Also, this “designer” is hardly the first person in the world to think of attaching a ruffle to a shift dress. I’m sure she got that idea from somewhere else, who in turn got it from somewhere else, and so on and so on.
A (or maybe b) I don’t think you should feel bad about wanting to draft your own version, whether or not they have it in your size range. But especially not if they don’t! These days there are lots of companies who have similar designs so a lot of people may just go that route and tweak it if they are not happy to draft their own.
I do think if there is a particular one that inspires you then it is nice to give credit though.
Don’t feel bad for using your own skills 🙂
Do your own design, credit the inspiration. Would you have bought it if it had come in your size? If so, then they lost a sale by not making your size. You were inspired, you aren’t stealing from them.
Oh yes – I would absolutely have bought it in my size. I can draft stuff from scratch but I don’t have a heap of free time and to use a pattern helps me go faster. I sew a lot in the evening too – so there is less thinking needed!
If it were me, I would use a similar pattern and hack it. I would also contact the pattern company and politely request that they expand their size range.
YES Deborah! Gillian suggested the same – if I don’t let them know I didn’t buy it because of this, they have no reason to invest in the expansion of size range right? Great plan.
I say “A” with a possible swing by “b”. If you had a basic well fit pattern block for your torso and a skirt, odds are high that you would be developing all your own patterns based on whatever out side inspiration you came across, be it RTW or line sketches of fashion mags or pattern companies. Clothing-wise, no there really isn’t anything new under the sun.
It’s not as if this pattern isn’t already heavily inspired by previous styles — it’s very 1920’s to my eye. If you feel like doing a little activism, by all means choose a version of b), but otherwise, I would just go ahead and make the dress. Shannon of Rare Device, in the previous post, had some very sensible things to say about the sizing choices of indie pattern companies.
And why credit a non-inclusive company for a style they didn’t even invent?
But it speaks volumes of _your_ conscience that you have all these thoughts about it, thank you for bringing up the subject. <3
I don’t think you should have any qualms about drafting it yourself, especially when it doesn’t come in your size! If you know it was your inspiration and would feel gross not saying so, then it might be nice to name it, but I think you’re in a good place as long as you’re not publishing “How To Draft PatternName!” content and actually undercutting sales to people who (a) are included in the range and (b) are willing to pay for drafting, instructions, grading.
Why not write to the company, explain your quandary no give them the opportunity to reply? You might be surprised…or at the very least you could then feel no guilt free about drafting your own version…perhaps with a nod to them for the inspiration.
This is a great idea! Clearly there are still indie designers who haven’t gotten the message that the curvier set will pay good money for great patterns – if only they came in our size.
It appears that spell check got the better of me…I meant “….explain your quandary to them…”. Where the “no give” came from I dunno!
Autocorrect is a curse 🙂 This is a good plan – just have to brush up on my French…
I strongly vote for option A or B – just do it and if it’ll encourage the pattern desigern to expand their size range, even better, but otherwise it’s just a dress you’d like to wear. And they didn’t make it in your size, I think that’s important to consider.
We get inspiration from all places and I’m pretty sure once you’ve made your own pattern it will be different from the original one, even if it’s just slightly (like added pockets or something). And since you don’t plan to sell the pattern, where’s the harm?
I think it’s fair to take the idea as inspiration and draft your own. After all, even if you bought the pattern and graded up, you’ll still have to make design decisions to make the proportions and any design details work for you (there’s nothing worse than a garment that’s been graded up but still has tiny little pockets or button bands because they weren’t factored in).
If you have to soothe your conscience by all means buy the pattern. Size it up to fit you, then send them a copy of what you did. After all, are we not all guilty of copying? I think you are awesome for this guilt trip. LOL. Cannot wait to hear your decision. Good luck!
You’ll be putting the work into drafting your own pattern, it will be your own pattern inspired by the company’s dress, a company that doesn’t inclusively draft. Go for it!
Absolutely make yourself the dress you know you will enjoy, that will fit and flatter! Pretty sure you would be fine changing details up on any pattern you choose! This is why you sew so relax and enjoy creating!
A or B, and don’ feel bad about it. I have done option C and ALWAYS regretted the amount of time and energy – and ultimately frustrating fitting experience. I don’t think it’s worth spending that much $$$ on a pattern that is relatively simple AND that would require a ton of additional work on your part. Seriously, buying outside the size range or in another language or both have been some of the most frustrating sewing experiences I’ve had. Now I am adamant that if a company doesn’t include me in their size range, they don’t deserve my business.
go for B.
Definitely b. In any case, there are no original ideas, everyone is inspired by someone else.
Just do your own and don’t worry about it. I wore a dress in this style in 1962. It was called a twist dress because of the nice swish of the low skirt when doing the twist. (It’s a dance style. ) Very similar dresses also can be seen in flapper fashion and later in the nineteen thirties. So the design you like is not new or original just the designer’s interpretation. So make your own interpretation that will be unique to you and utterly gorgeous.
From here on, this will be called The Twist Dress! If my make is successful I had better post a video of me doing the twist in it 🙂
A pattern is just a recipe. Would you feel obligated to buy the cookbook to make a recipe? Or just experiment with ingredients yourself?
NICE point. I almost never use recipes (except bread…) and when I do, I tend to totally freestyle with additions and substitutions!
B, definitely. There is nothing new in that dress. Draft your own pattern, making adjustments for your personal taste and credit them with the inspiration.
I would sew your own and credit them for the idea saying you would have bought the pattern if it was in your size.
I would go with option b. It’s the best you can do in this situation. I have had the same issue but now that I have a basic block that fits me, it’s on like popcorn! There have been many patterns i have purchased and tried to make work but the bust measurements would be something like 8″ smaller than me. Link them as your inspiration and make the dress!
Totally Option B. It’s not like it has anything super fancy or unique to it going by your sketch. They clearly don’t think their designs should be worn buy anyone ‘over a certain size’ so stuff’em! Make your own version and then list them as the inspiration but shame them a little in the process .. ‘Well I would happily have purchased this lovely pattern however my size range isn’t worth their design expertise so they aren’t worth my hard earned cash!’ lol
I would lean in favor of not copying it or copying it and citing your inspiration source IF – IF it was an incredibly unique design that really isn’t out there. Because then the designer wouldn’t get credit for their ingenuity. But I’ve seen this dress in onr form or another many times. It doesn’t appear to be anything new. So I say draft it in the size you need and go for it.
Your not selling your version or passing it off as all got own idea. It’s inspiration.
Credit it on IG etc same as you would if you copied a RTW dresss.
Good timing – I just finished making a dress that was …ok I”ll admit it – a knock off of an indie sewing pattern. I thought seriously about buying the pattern, but my body is so hard to fit I knew that I’d have to do a load of modifications to the pattern to get it to work. It was easier to just draft it from scratch based on my block. Personally I’ve decided that I will give credit to them for the design but be up front about the fact that it is not actually their pattern. so B for me!
Cool. I am leaning towards B (as most others are too!), with the added idea of contacting the company to ask them for a more inclusive size range 🙂 You will have to tag me on IG when you post yours 🙂
1. I don’t see why you feel obligated to this pattern company which doesn’t consider you when choosing a size range. They didn’t think of you, why think of them?
2. This is a shift dress with a ruffle. They didn’t “invent” the design, and attributing it to them as their intellectual property when near every RTW brand and pattern company has been making something similar for the past ten years is a bit of stretch.
3. You copied a RTW skirt, why qualms about copying a sewing pattern whose design you like?
All excellent points. The RTW skirt is an interesting call out – I do feel way less bothered by replicating RTW, though given fast fashion the skirt probably wasn’t available for sale any longer! MORE reasons to sew!
I’d go for A or since you are obviusly a nice person B to give youself some peace of mind! I look forward to seeing your finished version!
Buy it and tweak the design to make it your own. This is NOT an original design. That came from a patent attorney I once saw… and paid good money for! Cheers!
If you are confident that you can draft this yourself without referencing the pattern pieces in the smaller size, go for it. Clothing design feeds off itself, nothing is totally new. That looks like a fairly simple dress very similar to lots of other dresses. Just make it.
Hun, with two good hands, a functioning brain and the use of a calculator, the world is your oyster! Copy! copy! copy! 🙂
Absolutely go ahead and copy it. Although, given how much you’ll be changing size, I’m not sure copy is the right word. The entire fashion industry is based on copying or being inspired by. Even famous designers have no hesitation to revisit garments from the past to use as inspiration. No matter how much she’d like you to think so, Diane Von Furstenberg was NOT the originator of the wrap dress she’s famous for. IIRC, it was her use of the knit fabric that worked out so well for her. If it makes you less ambivalent, when you post the results, by all means acknowledge the one you based off of. Which is probably copied from somewhere else anyway.
A or B, if you feel you should give credit. Although I don’t think the design is terribly original, so I don’t see why you should give credit to a pattern designer that copied the dress from somewhere else, who copied it from somewhere else, etc etc etc.
If I were you I would go with option a or b. You have the best intentions, you wanted to buy it. The pattern does not have your size, what is not your fault. I don’t think spending money for a pattern that is way to small is justifiable. Also if you have the skills to make something similar go for it. And since you are nice you can say when you share your make that you took inspiration from their pattern and it would be great if they made their sizing cover more of the higher sizes.
I am stuck between your options b and c. I am leaning toward b because it is inspired by their pattern, but you simply can’t use what they provide and get a reasonably wearable article for yourself. I’d just credit them, but I could easily see how C would be an appropriate option.
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